Lesson: Learning to Expressively Care for Those We Overlook
Just yesterday, I posted the following status on Facebook:
When was the last time you sought to find out who someone is before writing them off? You never know how much damage you can do to someone when you simply don’t think about how to actively and expressively love them. What you say is important. What you don’t say is important. How you say it is important. Live life intentionally, and care for everyone. Not just those in your inner circles—everyone.
In my quest to inspire people to live more earnestly for God, I have always used my social media accounts as a platform to speak God’s word to anyone who might, for some reason, find me worth listening to. This post, in particular, came after a brief conversation I’d had with someone the night before. That conversation brought countless hurtful experiences to the forefront of my mind after that person communicated three simple words to me—three words that sunk into my heart like a knife. Who it was and what was said does not matter. What matters is the message that came to my mind the following day, as I’d paired this experience with countless others I’ve had in the past with family, friends, and acquaintances.
A Personal Story
I’ve always been a very passionate person. Honestly, when I hear the stories of what was going on in my mother’s life at the time I was born, I truly believe that my personality is due to God understanding exactly what my mother—a woman who has always loved greatly without condition—needed at the time.
1996 in North Carolina: Having recently lost both her mother and her sister to cancer, and being on the brink of destruction as she rightly ended her marriage in divorce, my mother’s closest family members were living on the other side of the country in California. My mom says she remembers thrashing her apartment in a brokenhearted, enraged frenzy before my aunty called all the way from California saying, “God told me the devil is trying to give you a nervous breakdown.” After some consolation, my mother returned home.
My mom enjoys telling stories of times I was too young to remember, but something that always intrigued me is how she explained how tenderhearted I was as a baby. She says I hardly ever cried, but when she’d put me in my crib I would stare at her, brown eyes glistening, as if to say, “Pick me up. I just want to spend time with you.” She’d pick me up and I’d smile with overwhelming joy. I’ve always been a mama’s boy. (You can laugh if you want.)
The Problem/My Hope for Anyone Reading
Years later, being known as probably the most sarcastic person most people have met, very few people know that that same tenderheartedness sincerely drives my life to this very day. I can’t explain it, really, but I so passionately and deeply love people, which is why (for those who do not know) I am so set on becoming a pastor despite my great love for music, business, and journalism.
What has pained me most of my life (and what has pained me even more as I’ve entered college at a Christian university full of many Christians who grew up much more secure than I did, and probably didn’t have to make considerations beyond their own lives very much) is the fact that so many people simply do not care for others.
Now before you make assumptions about my views, please know that there are two things that I am not saying: (1) I do not believe everyone who thinks differently than I think or who grew up more privileged than I did is heartless, and (2) I do not think, by any stretch of the imagination, that I am an expert at loving others and that I fall short of being a hypocrite like everyone else. In spite of these clarifications, however, I do desperately hope that anyone reading this would personally contemplate and reconsider how they respond to people in their daily interactions—especially those outside their circles.
As an extreme introvert (who can be awkward at times), sarcasm has always been my way of opening up to others. However, I’ve always hoped that my harsh facetiousness would never outweigh or undermine my love for people. I want people to feel as though they could always come to me during a rough time in their life, regardless of how close we may or may not be. I know my sarcasm can come across as rude sometimes, but somehow, everyone who knows me has still referred to me as kind and caring. I don’t know how it all works out, but I’m grateful for that.
What deeply frustrates me is living life never seeing that love genuinely reciprocated. It’s hard (and I fail a lot), but I try to always give people the benefit of the doubt and to seek after and respond to every person in a way that lets them know I am communicating with sincerity, love, and compassion.
Why is it that so many people limit the love they share to those within their relational circles? If you aren’t a family member, a friend, or some sort of missional target that allows one to tell others how much they “humbly share the love of Jesus overseas”, you are irrelevant. That is such disgraceful, pitiful pseudo-Christianity.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:3-4
Matthew 25:31-46 expresses how part of our judgment as believers will be based on how we care for the least of our brothers and sisters. There are many discussions as to who “the least of them” refers to, but I can assure you one thing: the least of them does not refer to your friends or those you would naturally declare to be a part of your “in crowd”. How sacrificial and meaningful is it really to care for those even our ruthless society would say we are supposed to care for?
We are most loving when we look at those we don’t know, or those who hate us, or those we do not like, or those who bother us, or those we do not share commonalities with, or those who we think are weird, and we boldly live in a way that communicates to them that they are loved and cared for. We must never look at our friendly status with God and forget that when Jesus died for our sins, the Bible says we were God’s enemies. It took God loving his enemies for us to be reconciled and ultimately considered his friends.
Love the people you think won’t benefit you. Love the people you don’t think about caring for. Love those you find yourself repulsed by. Love the people who irritate you. Love them in action—beyond your thoughts. Love them in such a way that communicates the gospel. So if they were to need someone to talk to and find themselves without hope or friends, they would think of you and say that you care. Become conscious of those you subconsciously overlook or respond to without giving a second-thought. Live intentionally, and love like Jesus.